Mamo Wolde

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameDegaga "Mamo"•Wolde
Used nameMamo•Wolde
Original nameማሞ•ወልዴ
Born12 June 1932 in Dire Jila, Oromiya (ETH)
Died26 May 2002 in Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa (ETH)
Measurements170 cm / 54 kg
NOC Ethiopia
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 3


Mamo Wolde first ran in the Olympics in 1956 for Ethiopia and competed in Olympic track & field over every distance from 400 metres thru the marathon. Starting as a middle-distance runner, he competed in the 800 and 1500 in 1956, and also ran the 4×400 relay for Ethiopia that year. But he became better known as a distance runner and marathoner, winning a 10K silver medal in 1968 and succeeding his countryman, Abebe Bikila as marathon champion that year.

A hero in his native country, Wolde’s life was spared in the 80s when Mengistu Haile Mariam began a Marxist dictatorship and killed 1,000s of Ethiopians, saving Wolde because of his fame. But Mariam was ousted in 1991, and in 1993, Mariam sympathizers were imprisoned and Wolde was considered among them. He was accused of killing a 15-year-old boy. Wolde was an Army officer and related that another officer killed the boy, but that he was told to fire a second bullet to finish the job, only to fire and miss on purpose. Wolde remained imprisoned for six years, despite several legal efforts, and a campaign among world-wide Olympians to have him freed. He died of chronic liver problems only two years after being released from prison.

Personal Bests: 400 – unknown; 800 – unknown; 1500 – unknown; 5000 – 13:38.8 (1967); 10000 – 28:31.8 (1964); Mar – 2-15.09 (1972).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics ETH Mamo Wolde
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 7 h1 r1/3
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 11 h1 r1/2
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Ethiopia 5 h3 r1/2
1964 Summer Olympics Athletics ETH Mamo Wolde
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 4
Marathon, Men (Olympic) DNF
1968 Summer Olympics Athletics ETH Mamo Wolde
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 h1 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics ETH Mamo Wolde
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1972 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony ETH Mamo Wolde

Olympic family relations